Cheese, M.D.

Shonda Rhimes and Meredith Grey preached eternal wisdom when they coined the phrase: “She’s my person.”

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This concept resonates with everyone, whether or not you have been lucky enough to find “your person.” When you are exploring a new city by way of gelato stands, cleaning up dog diarrhea at 3 AM, and doing mundane adulthood tasks (that no one told you about when you are a kid) – your life experiences feel somewhat incomplete without that person going through it all with you. Your person always makes life better. And hopefully, they feel the same way about you, too. If not, hello Glen Close in Fatal Attraction.

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LOVE MEEEEEE!!!!

I met my person 11 years ago. I looked across the grassy knoll of the college quad and approached the guy who was manning the root beer kegs (yeah, you read that right). One crooked smile coupled with his self-deprecating slouch and I was done for. The sequela known as “cute guy at college becomes husband” is an enchanting fairytale, though not exactly a linear series of events. But, I digress. The important thing: I met the person who actualized the phrase, “my other half.” He thinks I’m all right.

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So, blah-de-blah, enough with the romantics. If you wanted to read soft erotica, you’d be at the grocery store pretending to browse the magazine section. This is supposed to be a food blog. And, it is. But it is also a literary venue. So, in order to communicate the magnitude of today’s food message, I call upon the literary tools you dumped promptly after exiting your SATs: The analogy.

Hadley: her Husband

All food: _____

Remember that useful SAT tip for solving analogies: make a sentence joining the two words to figure out the answer.

Hadley’s person and one true love is her Husband.

So…

All food’s person and one true love is…. CHEESE.

Voila. See? I knew you were a genius.

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Cheese. Is there any other food that can be featured successfully and seamlessly with each course of the meal? I think not.

Wine? Obvi

Apps? Always

Soup? Necessary

Bread? Is the Pope Catholic?

With fruit? With veggies? Over dinner? As dessert? With your port?

From a cow? From a goat? From a wheel? From a can? Grilled? String?

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Yes. Cheese. A thousand times over cheese.

If I practiced idolatry, I would sacrifice hot baguettes and crush families of crackers before a tower of cheese. Magnificent as an individual and the magnificent food soul mate.

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You are a wise one, Honey Boo-Boo.

So, let’s close the circle with a twist you weren’t expecting. Remember, earlier how I said that hopefully when you find your “person,” the imprint is reciprocal? Yeah, that’s the goal. I recall the above analogy and some obscure algebra property to bring it home.

Hadley: her husband

All food: cheese

Husband: _______

I know what you’re thinking: Ooo! Pick me! I know!

Husbands’s person and one true love is Hadley!

Right? It’s Hadley!

Alas, it is not. The answer, again, is cheese. CHEESE. Husband’s person is cheese.

They fall for it every time. (Remember from high school, when in doubt, always pick C. For cheese.)

While cheese hasn’t necessarily been the secret to our marital bliss, it may be the reason why Husband marched through four years of medical school and three years of residency like a dedicated band geek. He barely broke a sweat.

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Like any wonderful husband, he credits me with his successes. I accept that credit on behalf of the real honoree: Mom’s macaroni & cheese. In his first year of medical school, I would make homemade mac & cheese for Husband the night before his big exams. Carbohydrate loading for the geek’s marathon, if you will. He always always earned high marks, so we attributed it to the “good luck mac & cheese” and a faithful tradition was born. (It should be mentioned that Husband tried to institute other “good luck traditions” for the nights before his exams, as well. Those were promptly dismissed. Boys.)

Thus far, every set academic and professional benchmark has been cleared using the bricks of hard work on his part, filled with a mortar of macaroni & cheese. So, Husband will now affectionately be referred to as: Cheese, MD.

— H.H.

P.S. I got you a present! You can now subscribe to your favorite foodie humor blog via e-mail. Adapted from Beyoncé: “On the left, on the left.”

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Mom’s Mac & Cheese

2 C dry macaroni

1/2 C butter

(Please don’t dishonor cheese or my mother by using anything but butter sticks) 

2 Tbsp flour

1 ½ C milk

(The fattier the better. When is that not ever true?)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 ½ C white American cheese

(I buy a block of cheese from the deli, about 0.5 lbs. Some have objected to this choice of cheese. I reply, “Are you not an American?”)

8 x 8 baker’s dish (prepared with cooking spray)

  1. Oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook macaroni as directed.
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt down butter and then add in the flour. Stir until the flour is totally combined.
  4. Add milk to butter mixture slowly, stirring constantly.
  5. On medium high heat, continue stirring until liquid starts bubbling and becomes a white cream sauce. Should take about 5 minutes.
  6. Add salt & pepper. (I don’t measure. The only way I live dangerously.)
  7. Placed strained macaroni in baking dish. Pour sauce over the macaroni and use a spoon to distribute it evenly.
  8. Shred white American cheese block for 1 ½ C of shredded cheese. Sprinkle shredded cheese over macaroni.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling and delicious looking.
  • My mother covers her dish with tin foil for the first 25 minutes, and removes the tin for the last 5 minutes of baking. She is a much more conscientious than I.  It’s worth mentioning because it browns the mac & cheese nicely at the end.

So there I was…

The day I realized that my lunch box was bigger than my purse. And, I regret to admit that it was not only bigger, but also heavier than my purse. If you must know, I was carrying a standard size Longchamp bag that day, okay? You get the picture.

This would not have been so bad if I had been attending my first day of kindergarten, where the kids all carry empty backpacks. Or, if I was setting sail on an escape raft from Cuba Syria somewhere presumably lovely but full of “hangry” politicians and religious zealots.

We made it because white girl packed us lunch!

No, alas, I was going to work. It was 9 AM. I would probably be leaving by 6 PM.

I had garnered quite the reputation for my lunchbox at work. It quickly became akin to the Mary Poppins carpetbag. But for sugar and carbohydrates. As I would enter my clinic, you could regularly find my co-workers transforming into spoiled lunch box squatters. They’d follow me into my office and ask, “What’d you bring us today??” I created high-maintenance little food monsters and it was all my fault.

Now, backstory: bringing baked goods to share with whoever was in my company had been a perennial habit of mine. Regardless of the setting: work, parties, class, friend’s homes, just because; it was always my first instinct. It was my thing. But I never realized it was a “thing.” I just did it. And, it didn’t take many months of serving up my best baked goods to the Squatters for them to formulate and share their unanimous opinion: “You do realize your future children are going to be fat and get juvenile diabetes, right?”

So, what is this large lunch box about and why has it inspired me? It’s basic and uncomplicated.

  • I love to eat.
  • I hate feeling hungry, and I plan to avoid it.
  • The screen saver of my mind is planning the nutritional intricacies of my next meal
  • I assume everyone else in my life identifies these facts as fundamental and motivating. So, I am just helping.

I know what you are thinking: “What self-respecting woman isn’t looking forward to her next foodgasm? What makes you think you have a different perspective on eating chocolate chip cookie dough directly out of the package? You’re probably just another basic white girl with an annoying food blog. Your name is probably Whitney. Your dog’s full name is Pumpkin Spice Latte. You just wanna dance.

I don’t disagree: the reflex to publicize our every waking decision and thought on social media is obnoxious. It’s self-fulfilling and purely image-driven. I put in a moderate-sized effort not to participate. And, I resisted for as long as I could to join the league of food bloggers, despite encouragement from the Squatters. Why? Because I am just another food-obsessed white girl who loves to bake, cook and eat. Who wants to read about that?

What finally led me break my vow and start this blog was my frustration with the current culture of food blogs. The word that comes to mind is ‘inauthenticity.’ It’s all: coifed chefs with less than 15% body fat and their “cute but chaotic families;” a “crazy busy life” but enough time to take perfect photos of perfect-looking food with perfect fresh ingredients; pristine graphic design coupling the self-deprecating cook with a magnificent organic dinner for twelve. It’s inspiration, but not really because it feels completely unattainable in your own life.

Yes, I generalize. And, yes, I sound like a miserable cynic. But, this is my beef with today’s food blogs. They always left me perturbed and never wanting to participate in the public forum of food discussion. It all felt manufactured and fake. Until… wait for it… NOW.

This is where My Lunchbox is Bigger Than My Purse was born. Now, I can’t speak to the actual authenticity of other food bloggers and their love for food. What I can speak to is my mission for this blog: a place I plan to talk freely about using expired milk in recipes (and not telling the dinner guests); eating a Nutella and peanut butter sandwich over the sink; throwing out handfuls of fresh herbs from the garden because who wants to fuck around with making trays of cilantro ice cubes?

And, because food and compulsively feeding others makes for a large following of friends and opportunists, I will probably feature some of the other characters in my life, too.

It’s the ugly, unflattering, uncool side of food OCD. Written by a woman (and her inner fat girl) whose lunchbox IS in fact bigger than her purse. And she will continue carrying luggage-sized lunch boxes, even when her blogging privileges are revoked and/or when blogging is no longer a thing.

— Hadley Homemaker

(Oh, right, and I picked a really cutesy and charming food blog penname to drive home my point.)